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Stories from the Verse
Re Verse All
Chapter 77: Takano 38
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Tommy realized quickly that her legs were already wet from the melting snow. She was wearing her party dress and sandals. She had, of course, brought her walking shoes for the trip from Camden to Philadelphia, but had not changed back into them yet. With snow on the ground that seemed the first priority. She was also wearing the light jacket, her heavier coat back home.
“Lesson one,” she said to the forest. “Don’t die miles from your survival gear.”
It struck her that there were a lot of other lessons she could have named, like don’t ride in cars without seat belts. She wondered what happened to the others, but realized fairly quickly that she would probably never know--and if any of them lived, they were probably trying to figure out what happened to her. The Billings were going to be confused, as well, since apparently all her possessions that had been in their spare bedroom were gone from there, relocated here somewhere, that way.
Changing her shoes, she bagged the fancy ones and stood. It was very cold and the wet dress and legs weren’t helping. It was night, but it was clear, and moonlight coming through the bare tree branches created eerie shadows on the snow, but the snow reflected the light sufficiently that she could see well enough to travel. Shouldn’t there be a lamppost around here somewhere, and a satyr or a centaur or someone? No, she supposed that there were enough different universes in the multiverse that they must all be at least a little different. She had been to a wood with a satyr, but it didn’t have either snow or a lamppost, that she recalled. This was somewhere different, snow and woods and moon and night and cold, above all cold. The cold would kill her if she didn’t do something about it, but the only option she could see was to head in the direction of her gear and hope she lived so long.
Was that the only option? Could she build an igloo? The snow wasn’t that deep, she thought. Undergrowth grew through it. It was an early, light, and powdery snow--enough to say winter was here, but not enough to build snow men or snow forts or, more pertinently, snow houses. She’d never built one anyway; she should stick with what she knew, and she knew that she had dry clothes, a warm coat, a plastic ground cloth, and a warm sleeping bag, ahead of her some unknown distance.
It occurred to her that she could presumably triangulate the distance. If she traveled laterally to that feeling and measured how far, and then calculated the two angles, that would give her a solid idea of how far it would be. She dismissed this for a few reasons. One was that the geometry was probably too complicated; she had no compass, no way of determining the relative angles with any accuracy. The other was that it would make it take longer to actually reach anything, as she would waste time not going toward it, and only to try to learn whether she could survive long enough to reach it. She would know whether she could survive that long when it mattered--either she would get there and know she made it, or she would die and know she didn’t. She didn’t really need to know more than that, and certainly not now.
She realized she had already started trudging in the direction she felt, and other than trying to keep relaxing so she could keep a bearing on where she was going, she saw no reason to do anything else.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #381: World Complications. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: